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What and how do Permaculture Designers charge for doing permaculture design for clients?

 
Posts: 7
Location: SW Washington
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That's my question. If this is already covered in a particular forum or thread, please tell me how to find the discussion. Thank you
 
pollinator
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I have never done this, so I really should not say, but I always felt if I was asked, I would treat it like how churches tend to do things.

So in that way, I would ask that they pay for reasonable transportation to get to their farm, and then expect a love-offering, or donation.

This would be a real problem for some people because unfortunately I live in Maine, so getting there might be prohibitively expensive. Still I could not see any other way to give any meaningful advice but to be right on the farm. Pictures and video just come up really short on getting the totality of the farm's situation.

But by reasonable, I do not mean they force me to take a bus ride from Maine to Washington State, yet I would not expect a 1st class seat on a plane either. So in New England, maybe they pay for me to drive, further...maybe a plane ticket. As for food and lodging, I would want to stay with them if possible, only so that their is a comradery and I get to know them, and they get to know me better, and they get the maximum use of my time while I am there too. But if that was too much, I worked for the railroad for years and stayed at cheap motel rooms, so it is no big deal. As for a love-offering, or donation, it would be what they feel is fair above transportation costs. I think it is possible that someone could royally screw me and give me twenty bucks for a two day visit, but I think most people would be fair.

I use the term love-offering, in case a few people lived close by and wanted to reduce costs to get me to a particular area, and then say with one flight there and back, I catch three farms. In that way, the flight would be divided by three farms, and the love-offering taken from the three farms collectively.

My biggest fear is not so much money though...but that people would be upset if they did not get advice that they wanted to hear. I like to make a list of what the farm has for resources, and then cross reference it with what the owners have for interest, and get an idea of what they could do without fighting the farm. I understand passion, and it has a lot to do with farming, but it is not really feasible to grow peanuts in the arctic either, if you see what I mean?

 
master steward
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Hi, Hannah

That is a great question!  I can't say I have seen the answer here.  I feel it would depend on a lot of different things.  The local area, whether the person has a degree or certification, etc.

Here are some threads that might help:

https://permies.com/t/129428/careers/experiences/Advice-starting-permaculture-landscaping-business

https://permies.com/t/125946/permaculture-projects/Starting

https://permies.com/wiki/119855/Permaculture-Design-Companion-Jasmine-Dale
 
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I find this really interesting as I am seriously looking at trying to make up a 5 year plan. Swales, fruit tree guilds, water cachement, garden planning, house improvements, etc.

I think I will do what I usually do these days when I’m overwhelmed, and that is go back to my tech writing roots.

When starting a project I knew next to nothing about, I did 2 things: a statement of purpose and definitions. The purpose always included the scope: how big, how long should it take, available resources, and an absolute definition of the end user. For a written piece this determines the vocab used, and sets the design of the document, which was my final product.

For integrating permaculture design and values into our home, the written work is only a guide. Reality, in terms of health, money, local laws, etc. will inevitably have an impact.

Hmm. Thank you for this thread, I have a lot of thinking to do!
———-
Because of this thread, I ordered Paul’s book! I had asked for it at our not-so-local hippy bookstore, but they didn’t have it. However, they agreed it looked like something they’d want to stock. That shop is 1 hour from where we live, so I ordered it closer to home. I have the Mollison book already, somewhere...
 
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I've made similar enquiries and it's like any other trade/profession charges - based on an hourly rate tied to qualifications, reviews, and the level of work needed to produce the product e.g. A concept plan will cost much less than a final design with spreadsheets of plants and itemised costs.

Be aware that some practitioners specialise in certain aspects - native species, water, quasi-religious/pseudoscience stuff (feng shui, etc).

Collecting a lot of the base information yourself and giving it to the consultant will certainly reduce costs - they won't need to spend their time and your money gathering it.

As usual, it pays to shop around to get quotes - obtaining an hourly rate makes it easier to compare apples with apples.
 
pollinator
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Great topic. I’ve been installing a large permaculture food forest thing here at home, but I’ve been contemplating offering my services for a fee to do the very same thing you titled your thread for. So, thanks for getting that ball rolling. Anyway, It comes down to many things but, you may want to call some landscape designers of various levels of quality and get an average price for what they’d charge for a drafted design . Are you supplying the trees and shrubs? Will you get 5em from a box store or from reputable nurseries? Will the nurseries guarantee the life for a year like Lowe’s and Home Depot? If not, then you’ll have to double or triple the price of the plant/tree from the nursery to cover the future cost of not only replacing it but all the time and labor involved. Ten or so years ago right out of horticulture school we were charging $100 just for a well done hand drawn/drafted design. Then there’s equipment and do you own it or have to rent it? Can you operate said equipment and if not, how much do you have to pay for a skilled operator? An excavator can do quite a bit of work in a very short period of time compared to say a tractor or a shovel or five hired shovels...In my area, an excavator like my Yanmar Vio 35 rents for about $350 per day. Were I to farm out my machine and skills to clients today, I’d charge an average price of $90-$100 per hour which includes my time and machine. Tractor prices are $50 for friends and $65 per hour for clients. Always have a minimum price set as well. That’s it I think for now.....Oh, what’s your time worth and the payroll for your employee (s)?
 
Hannah Rishel
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Location: SW Washington
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Thank you all for your prompt and insightful replies!  I took an online PDC course in about 2015 from Geoff Lawton, then an Advanced PDC course at Bullocks' Permaculture Homestead in August 2019, with certificates from both.  My husband and I have utilized much from both courses plus lots of other reading & exploration, in two very different settings (high desert in the SW United States, and near-coast in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.).  I've made a modest permaculture design for a son's front yard, otherwise have only designed for our own homesteads.  Now another son, an architect, has asked his dad and me to design, or apprentice in designing around a commercial/residential building he (and the afore-mentioned brother) designed in a Portland Oregon suburb, which is a 1 to 1.5 hour drive from home.  There is some city improvement grant-type funding, and the first question of our son is really simply to get an estimate of what to tell the city that the landscape/permaculture design might cost.  We're not landscape architects.  There is a firm I could simply refer him to--of landscape architects with permaculture design expertise, who practice in Portland.  But it would be cool to get our own feet wet in collaborating with our sons, whose goal is to develop environmentally responsible/sustainable design capacity.  So all of your input on my question is welcome!  Hannah
 
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